Purpose of review: Cardiac natriuretic peptides have emerged as potent metabolic hormones during the past decade. We here discuss recent work highlighting the potential importance of these hormones in metabolic physiology and diseases.
Recent findings: Natriuretic peptides signal through a cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway to convey their biological effects at the cell level. Similarly to cyclic adenosine monophosphate, activation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate signaling induces a browning of white fat and thermogenesis. Natriuretic peptides also enhance oxidative capacity and fat oxidation in skeletal muscle of mice and humans. The molecular mechanism involves an upregulation of mitochondrial fat oxidative capacity and respiration. This may be particularly relevant to relay the physiological adaptations of chronic exercise. Population-based studies indicate that circulating natriuretic peptides are lowered in obesity and predict type 2 diabetes. Recent work also directly link natriuretic peptides with type 2 diabetes through a gut–heart axis.
Summary: Natriuretic peptides exhibit a wide range of biological actions to control metabolic homeostasis. Natriuretic peptides deficiency in obesity may trigger metabolic dysfunction and lead to type 2 diabetes. Increasing circulating natriuretic peptides level and tissue signaling may help to fight against metabolic complications of obesity.